Saturday, December 3, 2011

Festival of the Arts Grant Proposal

I've made a proposal for a Festival of the Arts grant, which may result in me having money to do a large-scale public sculpture this spring. These are images of smaller-scale ideas that I've been carving out, which will hopefully give the committee some sense of what I have in mind, formally:

I've been carving out of scraps of foam core that I've found around the studio

These are the sorts of forms that I'm interested in (imagine them standing vertically, and larger than life-size so that you could look through and walk around them--there will probably only be one, but it will look similar to this kind of biomorphic form)

A larger one I'm working on

Imagine the kind of depth I could get from 30 sheets of this stuff!

I've also been working on an installation, which is done--I'm taking tons of images yesterday and today because I have to tear it down and repaint the room tomorrow. I'll be sure to post a worthy selection soon...

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Crit Notes 9/19/11

Some visuals for reference:

And here we go...

Me: I've been collecting broken glass that I find on the street--that's what these boxes consist of. The canvas is covered in torn paper (that was a summer project), and the wood pieces are scrap...That's all I'll say for now

SD: Can you say more about where it comes from/ the motivating choices?

Me: Basically, just walking around the street, picking up glass--I guess I'm attracted to the way it reflects light, contains color; the aesthetic of the gutter/ the spray paint patterns that happen on the sidewalk--it's like a whole weird construction language. There are all of these found compositions...I take a lot of pictures

AS: Is that in the work here? That jaggedness/ graffiti effect

Me: Not necessarily--the idea of the discarded/ forgotten objects is I think

SD: I think there's a change here from your work from before. There are stronger sensibilities--color choices were more about design principles/ they were more polite. Now things have gotten this gothic-y, more baroque symmetry/ this primary color idea. That could be pushed. Reminds me of artists dealing with subcultures without tropes. Choosing specific sensibilities--you could pressure the tension--how do they grow

AS: Louise Nevelson's wood sculptures--transforming something found into something...spiritual? You're amassing material, line inside of the entire building of it. But also challenged by the paper--the contained experience working on the canvas versus the semi-pictorial structured sculptures

Me: I feel like the canvas was kind of a vehicle toward the boxes. I started gathering the glass because the shards were like physical, ready-made color versions of the paper scraps. It's a more organic thing in a way, picking them up and deciding how to use them

AS: I'm more drawn to the wall sculptures. The painting alone is inward versus opening up. You have this mass-oriented aesthetic. Think about limiting it/ canceling out, trying out help focus/ work with the mess

Me: It is kind of limited already--the palette is limited by virtue of the glass--it's chosen for me. There are predetermined elements--it becomes more about how to present them

AS: Even more

PK: And the color for the light comes about how...

Me: Experimenting, figuring out how it works. The red and yellow made sense. For the green and blue, I had to play around--red was too much, etc.

PK: How are you choosing the texts?

Me: Basically, they physically fit in the space underneath the boxes, so they worked in that utilitarian way. Other than that, I mean, they're books that I chose to buy and read and have around on a shelf in my studio

PK: Did you compose the boxes so that we'd see the books/ the egg carton?

Me: It sort of just worked out that way--I needed a support system for the light bulbs, and that's what I had on hand that worked best (I tried tupperware containers, but they weren't stable enough)

PK: If we run with the clues (the associations that can be drawn from the books), is that good or bad?

Me: You can do that. It might not be what I'm doing explicitly, but sure...

SD: off of what PK's saying, the relation to subject matter--you talk about detritus, but then you use this perfect abstract, formal language to make the objects. Push the deliberateness of the subject; pressurize provisional decisions (what fits better, and why?)

Me: You mean, in terms of why I decide that something works better than another? (like, why blue light vs red light?)

SD: Yes. Formally, not purely balanced. But what you look for points to what you need to find--strong feeling.

PK: I mean, you have these propped up on books about women artists and art school...I just think that's something that can be pushed, directed

CA: I'm interested in the wall sculptures and how they relate to everything else. Yes, the process is similar, appealing, created in the same environment, but there's a huge difference--painting the wood white obliterates the content. Plywood, 2x4s have content--painting them all white papers over the distinctions. The books retain their content--they're intact--that's a different strategy in play. Not saying the same each time, but is the content of the wood not important?

SD: Suspiria, Dario Argento--shattered colored glass--> 70s horror, but not bad. Your visuals/ interests illustrate/ enrich the subject

JW: Are the wood sculptures done?

Me: Don't know--gesso'd them to unify them, but it's only one layer, not really enough, but basic

JW: Gesso'd with intention to paint them?

Me: not really...

JW: It's clear that you're still building a language, that it's really early on--kinks still need working out. I like the expansiveness of the process, that it's inclusive--it's clear that it's in process. I lose the location of the light when I squint, which makes it better--it's not quite the transformation it could be (with the light bulbs). Maybe if the cube could disappear. That pink reflecting on the wood is my favorite part. You're in a tough but great spot. The problems, but also the options are at the forefront. Your folded drawing uncollapsed. Branching out. Push on, expand more, focus on taking it to the level as is implied--theatricality/ subcultures--focus, open towards; make decisions inside the work

SL: Excessiveness--organic out of nonorganic parts. Not the light-- out in the woods/ in the thicket. light unneeded--out of destroyed is glowing of light--stained glass--> spiritual, serene form. The white wood pieces are moderate in scale-- trying to hold back/ be succinct?

Me: More like outbursts--the canvas was such a slow process, wanted something faster to get out what I was trying to do, engage in 3D. Scale is determined more by my arm span/ the table than anything

SL: Out of flat?

PK: The light boxes with broken glass are starting to create space--created, animated explosion. The way they're arranged with the wood pieces creates the kind of space I think you're trying to go for more than any individual piece (walking around the box and almost colliding with the wood piece on the wall behind it, etc.). The red one more than the blue one

NL: Are the boxes finished?

Me: not necessarily. They're the kind of thing that could be built up forever...I'm still collecting glass, I could see adding to them

NL: Have you thought about pushing the drawing farther out from the wall?

Me: Not really. I did turn it around a lot to see horizontal vs vertical...

PK: is the light behind the canvas attached to the wall?

Me: yes.

GC: Do you have a guide for judging when something is working, for judging what is right and wrong? Interest in the impulsive. Reciprocity in how you are doing?

Me: It's more like trying to get at a feeling that matches the feeling of the initial encounter. If it translates, if the feeling matches, then it's 'right' or 'working', if not, then it isn't

GC: since you make a large number of works, is there room for one to critique another? Agree with JW, you're in an interesting place, but this is homeless work, unclaimed, on the cusp of something. You are always open with your work, always granting and responding intuitively--your intuition s getting really strong, but the next step is to bring in torque and tension to that. Important issue to contemplate through making work? Have discourse in the work

SD: work could get a lot more fierce, develop language. divine from the tea leaves, telling you about standardized installation, graphic. suggest and say something, divine the manifesto being presented by the work. Don't keep in niche. Charles Burns--graphic artist. you've got the language of traditional modern, formalized abstraction, but what's emerging is fierceness as sense from the work--that's what could be pushed

GC: said differently, there is of course always a level of energy involved in your work, but the ways of reaching it are not quite up to the same pitch as the energy you're bringing to it. Think blunt and dumb--if you glue the books together , how is the visual image compromised? Even for the gesso--there's something so recognizable about gesso--its absorbency...the white on the wood pieces could reach the same pitch in an energetic way--not that any of this has a laissez-faire energy or the energy of a yawn, but some resolutions don't meet on the same plane.

Me: when I was talking to you before about the mirror piece feeling contrived, I think that issue of pitch is exactly the perfect explanation for what is wrong

(this is the mirror piece, which I didn't show at the crit)

GC: Try in this process. Be flat-footed. Don't ignore or be a gymnast. Seen it from the beginning--theatrical, more lighting from behind doesn't take off. Black-white drawing has its own quality--it hasn't begun to transcend itself. Too accustomed. What is your task-master? What disturbs, pushes? I mean, to me, the lights turn it into some kind of jack o-lantern pumpkin piece...which is really selling it short

CA: picking up on GC etc. Bold moves--all problems on the table but critical eye to see what parts work. You say you have more boxes made, but why aren't you questioning the fact that they're boxes. Are the boxes really doing a service? Alright, it's a quick fix, but how can you make the intuitive better? What if you build forms from just the glass--what about one color? What would that drawing look like with just one light? Does it have to be those colors? Put out with a response, go back, question the elements, one premise at a time. Methodical for critical eye, come back again and go beyond contrivance

SD: make a lot of work. more raw--pull out again--look for what happens in the in between spaces--taking shots of work. I like the little glows--subtlety could come in. Red and blue vs black and white

GC: photograph, draw, paint, document from it, take it apart and put it back together

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Music Cognition Lab

I had my first post-bacc critique earlier. I'll deal with that in a later post though. Right now, I'm excited about a website a friend just shared with me. So excited, in fact, that I feel the need to archive it here:

I love it because it provides the musical and verbal equivalents of the sounds (and the terminology, which perpetually illudes me), and because I've been meditating on the emotional structure of sound (music) for a while now. It's like another piece in a puzzle for me, one that mustn't get lost in the shuffle of websites I've bookmarked...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Buyer's Satisfaction; This American Life

Remember Art School (Propositions for the 21st Century)? Well, it's fantastic. Like, unspeakably excellent and inspiring, affinity-wise. Example: remember back in January, when I was thrilled to learn about minor keys, or, more specifically sustained chords resolving in minor? No? Well, that happened. Anyway, in this brilliant jewel of a book, there is an essay by Raqs Media Collective called "How to Be An Artist By Night". Now, every essay in this book is brilliant, but this one in particular has a layout that directly relates the methodology behind art-making to musical practice, locating fundamental steps on a kind of scale. One such step (number 5 on the scale), is titled "Minor Media". Quote time:
"Minor media are practices in a minor key. They introduce tonal alterations that rearrange the regularities made familiar by the repetition of major practices. They alter the mood or setting or emotional tenor of a practice by insisting on attention to irregular variations. They are ways of remembering, imagining, and accounting for things that do not get remembered, imagined, or accounted for in ordinary course...Minor media are the practices that can be stitched into the folds of everyday [methodological pursuits]--observation, recording, alteration, restoration, arrangement, rearrangement, ordering, disordering--one step at a time.

Minor media are not master strokes and do not seek to produce masterpieces, and they are not necessarily worked on by great masters. What they do allow is a dense layering (by one person or by many over lengths of time) of the work of art with a multitude of surfaces that produce a context, rhythm, and texture of accumulative annotations. It is this accumulation that occasionally yields the sharp significance that is the unique property of a work done in a minor key."
My knee-jerk response to this is a resounding FUCK YES!!! This passage completely encapsulates everything that I want to do. As I was finally able to explain in January, songs that resolve in minor keys are always the most resonant (to me, and apparently also to Raqs Media Collective). They are tinged with melancholy or thoughtfulness--they change your mood; they make you feel something you hadn't anticipated, which makes the experience you're having all the more powerful. I want to make art that does that! I want to be a minor media artist! And that's just one of multiple such revelations and affinities that have been bursting off the pages of this book, through my eyes, into my brain, then back out onto the pages of my scetchbook, which are scrawled with barely legible rants, made evermore vehement now that I have a whole book full of people who feel exactly as I do about the legion of issues discussed in this book!

One of the major thematic issues, which carries throughout most if not all of the essays, is the entwined relationship between institutions, the market, and the increasing professionalization of artists. Which brings me to the second section of the title of this post! The other day, on my way back to Boston from Philly, I decided to hunker down and finally commit to listening to a few episodes of This American Life. I'd been meaning to do this for a while--tons of people have been talking it up to me (in that annoying way that friends do), and it is definitely as awesome as everyone told me it would be (in that annoying way that things that friends are correct about are). But this blog isn't about confirming the awesomeness of public radio programs that my friends recommend to me. No, what makes this development blog-worthy is a particular phrase spoken in one of the episodes, a phrase that led me to actually pause, rewind, and replay so that I could write down the exact wording in my sketchbook. The episode was #339, Break-Up, and the phrase was spoken by Betsy Allison Walter when she was an 8 year-old guest on All Things Considered in 1987. This little girl was on the program because she'd written a letter to the then mayor of New York (Koch) about her parent's divorce, asking him for advice/ an explanation (I know, heart-breaking and adorable). Anyway, at the end of the interview, she reads a short book she'd written for other kids whose parents were getting divorced. Noah Adams jokingly asks her if she wants to be a famous writer and make lots of money, and her response is the phrase: "No, not money; just famous".

So why did I pause, rewind, replay, and write it down? Because that pretty much sums up my ideal art-making scenario. Money (the market, institutionalized hierarchies that determine funding, the pursuit of economic success) is, in my mind, fundamentally different from, and less desirable than, fame (the kind of well-known status that enables a broad, far-reaching scope; the ability to affect change and inspire people). This 8 year-old has her priorities in the right place, and I personally sympathize with those priorities.
However, as a young adult who's beginning to gain an increasing understanding of how the world works, I'm constantly wondering if it's possible to have one without the other (Is it possible to gain that level of influence without money?). It doesn't seem to be, at least not within our (capitalistic) system in which everything is monetarily valued. Things are only considered worthwhile if they yield money--that goes for ideas and activities as well as objects. Even if you disagree with that value system (which I do, in case you still had any doubt), the power structure and the corresponding distribution of "success" is still based on it. Right now, it seems that in order to attract attention from the institutions that determine and dispense culture, one needs a certain set of credentials, all of which require money. Money is the thing that validates what we do or make--probably because it's easier to measure worth in dollars than in concepts as nebulous as meaning, fulfillment or affect. This seems wrong to me, but is there any realistic way to escape it? I mean, the reality of this society is that we all need money to survive--food, shelter, clothing, transportation, all cost money. Without those most basic things, a person will eventually cease to physically exist, making any and all "higher pursuits" ineffectual by default (you can't make good, empowering art if you're dead). But at the same time, doesn't the ceaseless need for money leech time and energy that could otherwise be put toward the "higher pursuits" of truth, beauty, free thought/ expression etc. that should ideally be within everyone's grasp (that ideally enrich life)? Is it possible to have enough money to do whatever one wants without having to fundamentally compromise one's integrity/ fulfillment somewhere along the way? Is it possible to fully throw oneself into the pursuit of fulfillment without starving? Is it better to sacrifice meaning in order to "afford" freedom (monetarily), or to pursue idealistic meaning/ freedom without really being able to afford it (and if "affording it" means prostrating oneself at the feet of the culture makers, is the meaning you're after ultimately subconsciously or explicitly fit to the directives of those with the funding to help you afford some compromised version of whatever 'it' used to be)? Does anyone ever really afford both? Does anyone ever really get what they want? Does freedom (the kind of freedom we're all really after in one form or another) actually even exist?

Now, I'm sure that 8 year-old wasn't thinking all of those things, but what she said pretty succinctly got me there (and all of the essays in Art School effectively keep me there, but with some hope thrown in for good measure)

Monday, July 11, 2011


Took another epic trip to New York this past Tuesday through Thursday! I was accompanied by some art history buddies, so things were on a pretty even keel, considering our mutual tendencies to devour and absorb any and all art.

We got in Tuesday afternoon and wandered over to Chelsea, where we visited a friend at James Cohan until the gallery closed. The show that's up right now, "Catch the Moon in the Water: Young Chinese Artists" was a pretty satisfyingly diverse survey of contemporary Chinese artists. My favorite piece was probably Hu Xiangqian's video/performance Xiangqian's Art Museum, which was hilarious and excellent and made me feel in good company conversationally. The piece consists of Hu Xiangqian standing in front of a microphone in a grassy patch in front of a brick wall, describing various works of art that he may or may not have seen, and which may or may not actually exist (some are well-known works that the audience could recognize, others he fabricates to sound real). It's pretty brilliant. I also couldn't take my eyes off of Chen Wei's photographs Records Hypnosis and House of Recovery. Really gorgeous. They kind of reminded me of Gregory Crewdson in a weird way.

The following day we finished up in Chelsea. The standout was Matthew Ronay's Between the Worlds at Andrea Rosen. OK, we walked into the gallery and encountered this box of black curtain. We had to circle the periphery to find the entrance, and when we did, it was like floating into an underwater cave/ forest/ dreamscape. Absolutely incredible--there were so many details to take in (screens of tiny carved wooden mushrooms; partially obscured light sources that added an undercurrent of magical/ holy energy to the space; owls that would suddenly appear on the periphery), but the thing I loved most was the simplicity of the materials. Everything was papier-mâché, fabric, carved wood, and simply applied paint. But simple choices in composition, color pallet and craftsmanship created this atmosphere that was completely engrossing. I wanted to live there.

Shows we also saw in Chelsea:
Against the Way Things Go at Gasser/Grunert (I really liked Joe Winter's piece, which investigated light and color by having viewers place pieces of colored construction paper under slightly varied light sources--2 variations of white light, 2 variations of yellow light. So, the color of the blue construction paper would look vastly different under the white light bulb than it did under the yellow light bulb, and slightly different under each type of white or yellow light. And each color had its own unique reaction. It was very simple and straightforward in its presentation, but still retained the phenomenological quality); Phoebe Washburn at Zach Feuer (she came and gave a talk at Brandeis this past semester, and I loved her/ her work. I didn't have the guts to talk to her then, and I didn't have the guts to talk to her when she was sitting in the office of Zach Feuer...); and Eraser at Magnanmetz Gallery (Shanti Grumbine's erased/ xacto-knifed newspaper pages were mesmerizing).

Later, we hit up MoMA and stayed until it closed (German Expressionists again, plus the Francis Alÿs, which was fantastic. It made me feel how I felt when I saw the Michelangelo Pistoletto show at the Philly museum, which is a feeling I still can't really describe).

Thursday was Lower East Side/ Chinatown day (because we were taking the Fung Wah back). The standout was Barbara DeGenevieve's Panhandler Project, which included a series of photos and an accompanying video. Essentially, the project consisted of her finding homeless black men and giving them food and a hotel room in exchange for their posing nude. The things involved in this piece!! I mean, race, class, gender, sexuality, exploitation discourse, the art historical history of the nude and objectification/ the gaze, on and on forever. But the beauty of the piece is the subtle suggestion of these things you need to think about in order to fully engage with it. It doesn't hit you over the head with an opinion or incite a blatant reaction outright--its ambiguity is what makes you think and feel the most.

"Lost" at Invisible-Exports (some interesting propositions, but nothing that really grabbed me); and Miriam Böhm, Rosy Keyser, and Erin Shirreff at Lisa Cooley (my favorites were Miriam Böhm's pictures of paintings, or pictures of pictures of paintings, which made me laugh while thinking about distance and remove)

The New Museum was under construction, so we got in for half price. The galleries that were open contained great things: "Charles Atlas: Joint's Array", which was gorgeous--an array of televisions all playing loops of video of Merce Cunningham's flexing and rotating joints, with a soundtrack of John Cage's ambient city sounds (touching/ poetic). There were moments when the images on a group of monitors would sync up for a brief interlude, and those moments took my breath away. Upstairs was "Ostalgia", a sweeping and eclectic survey of more than 30 artists from more than 20 countries across Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Republics. My favorite piece was Mladen Stilinović's Dictionary--Pain, which spanned the perimeter walls of a room--each panel contained a list of words with the original definitions scratched out, replaced by the word 'pain'). There was also a video piece about Marxist educational practices in East Berlin before the wall fell--there was propaganda-style footage of a class debating the exploitative nature of capitalism, as well as an interview with a former student/ party member who moved to Hungary before the wall fell. I would have liked to have stayed to watch the whole thing, and I wish I could remember the name of the artist! We also went up to the roof balcony and reflected for a bit (actually, my fear of heights and love of sweeping views mauled each other internally, but that's kind of like reflection...), and then I agonized over which books I could actually afford to buy out of the 12 or 15 I would have liked to horde. I chose 2: Inside the Painter's Studio (which has been on my Amazon wish list forever) and Art School (Propositions for the 21st Century (which was just too apt to pass up).

And then I took the weekend to recuperate/ re-organize my studio

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Words, Installment 3: Polar Processes

Additive/ Subtractive
Obscuring/ Revealing
Strengthening/ Weakening
Creation/ Destruction

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Glass Ruminations Cont'd

Another important thing about the glass that I forgot to mention:

There are patterns that develop when I'm collecting--certain types of glass are more common than others; certain spots on the street are more likely to accumulate glass (the areas where the sidewalk meets the street, for instance, or where the presence of a telephone pole causes a mild ditch--I know exactly where to look now); certain streets are rife with glass shards (and other refuse), while others have not a spec. This is a very important aspect of this whole thing for me--noticing these things, however passively, because they really say something. The more glass you are likely to find in a place, the more likely it is that that place doesn't receive much attention from whatever power is behind the cleaning up of glass and trash and the maintenance of basic infrastructural damage control--the more likely it is that that place will be regarded as "dangerous" by certain people, the more likely it is that some people will avoid that place, despite the fact that plenty of other people live and work there with their families, that children happily ride their bikes there, that the ice cream truck comes around on hot days when the glass shines brightest. And I'm just talking about Waltham Massachusettes here! Imagine what the glass has to say in other places!

I think this is a huge part of why the prospect of making something out of this glass is so psychologically overwhelming to me. It's part of something much bigger than me and what I experiment with in my studio. I feel like it's my job to honor these things that I'm finding, to adequately convey the narrative, the significance, the real meaning, the reason why I feel compelled to stop and pick these things up in the first place. But I don't know how to do that--I don't know what I can make that is going to get other people to see what I see, or at least to acknowledge and appreciate that I see what I see. I don't know how to make something that is that important, or at least that conveys the importance that I find in these seemingly minuscule, ignorable things. I don't even know if that's what I should be trying to do--is it even good enough just to get people to look at something I made and hope it made them think about something? What effect does any of that ultimately have? It just seems kind of pointless sometimes...I like to think though that if I can make something that makes even just one person think (and maybe even do something), that it's totally worth it. Maybe that's just my naivete...I prefer to consider it idealism (much more distinguished)

Creating from Destruction--a Moral Dilemma

I've developed a new obsessive habit: I've begun collecting shards of shattered glass off the street. I carry around an empty container whenever I walk anywhere and stop to collect them. There's a lot of it, in a variety of colors and configurations, all over the place. Now that I'm looking for it, I find it everywhere. Anyway, I've been collecting for a week or 2...I sort through the grimy mix, clean off the individual shards, and sort them all by color (there are a surprising amount of variations within the greens, ambers, clears). Here are some photos of the sorting process, just to give you some idea of what I'm talking about:

My initial impulse was to build jagged surfaces with them in a similar vein to what I did with the paper panels (Aggregates) I put in the show. I tried fooling around on some panels:

(The flowers were an impulse focus mechanism)

I still haven't really figured out what to do with them yet--it's been kind of frustrating trying to get the level of volume I was initially looking for--I wanted a really jagged, jutting out kind of effect, but it's nearly impossible to get that with what I have because most of the pieces are pretty small, and I'm not too trusting of gravity in terms of trying to stand things up on their thin edges...

A couple people have suggested I just break my own glass--that that would afford some more control over the kinds of pieces I get (color, size, shape, thickness, etc.). I've thought about this, but I always end up in this weird kind of internal conflict. I'll try to explain...

The way I'm working right now--the process I'm going through is one of seeking out, collecting and building from the discarded fragments of objects that have been broken/ shattered and subsequently forgotten/ ignored/ avoided. I find them beautiful (they glimmer even in the dirt), and clean them up to reinstate and display that beauty in a new creation. It feels like I'm salvaging something--like I'm picking up the pieces and making something positive out of the evidence of these accumulated acts of violence or carelessness. It feels like I'm facilitating the re-realization of the true potential of the forgotten remnants.

I have a hard time contemplating being the actual source of the destruction/ enacting the actual violence that will reduce a bottle or glass or vase or whatever into broken shards. I have a hard time justifying what would be a violent act (even if it's just glass) for what? A sense of control? Power over the unapologetic pursuit of my own personal vision? That starts to feel like sinister territory...

One of the people who brought up the idea of breaking my own glass remarked that what I'm doing now is passive. I suppose, in a way, they're right. Finding already broken pieces of glass is a passive act. I'm sort of using them in a way that allows me to avoid being responsible for how they got broken. I get to be the one who points to their brokenness, acknowledges it, and then uses the pieces toward my own personal vision anyway. So I guess that's sinister in a different way...

But I also feel pretty strongly that being the brutalizer isn't the answer. I think I am active in my seeking and finding and collecting and carefully crafting and building--it's just a different kind of "active". But if I manage to build something that transcends the initial violence involved in what happened before I found the materials, will I have brought about a positive change, or will I have obfuscated that violence? Is the power I exercise through my intuition better than the power I could exercise with a hammer? It certainly feels like a better kind of control than the kind of control that would come from deliberately destroying. It feels like I'm working with the materials, like I'm facilitating a kind of transformation or realization, rather than exerting power over by destroying, brutalizing, shattering. It feels like I'm undoing those kinds of acts instead of perpetuating them.

But if I decided to deliberately break my own glass, knowing that I was taking on the role of the brutalizer, could my own awareness of the shifted tone of that process clarify the violence better than transforming it would? Could my inhabiting of that role somehow serve to raise consciousness rather than perpetuate? I guess it all depends on the ultimate outcome...on what kind of object I ultimately decide to make, or if I decide to make an object at all...I feel like if I were to take on the breaking of the glass, that would have to be the whole piece--just the act of shattering the glass, the futility of it, the lack of necessity or justification or worth in it, the complete pointlessness of destruction. Because how could I justify creating something out of what I just destroyed? How could I ever believe, much less convince others to believe, that it was really necessary or worth it--that the new thing that destruction enabled me to make was so much better and more worthy than that bottle's existence? I suppose I could...but I'd be lying (and I have no intention of ever becoming a politician...)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Phrases, Installment 1

Recently, in addition to the singular words that linger in my head, I've been writing down random phrases that pop into my mind. Sometimes I write down multiple variations. Sometimes they feel like titles, or come out of a sort of title-contemplating mindset (the first few clusters came out of me brainstorming titles for the show, for instance). Sometimes they're phrases I've heard or seen somewhere that have a kind of ring about them that makes me write them down. Sometimes they're phrases spoken from the point of view of one of my pieces. They're usually just weird or bizarre wordplay types of things that take the form of off-beat fragments and pseudo-sayings. But they're fun to think up and write down and read over from time to time, and who knows, someday maybe I'll actually use them. I'm almost at the end of my current sketchbook, and I don't want to lose them, so I'll post them here in the order that I wrote them down:

If You're a Moth, I'm the Flame

Into the Fire

Learn By Doing

Get Burned

Come Closer

Too Close for Comfort

Come Closer (Too Close for Comfort)

Enter At Your Own Risk

Danger: High Voltage

Can You Hear Me?

Can You See Me?

Can You Feel Me?

Can You Smell Me?

Can You Taste Me?

Can You Love Me?

Can You Understand Me?

Can You Speak to Me?

Gan You Grow With Me?

Can I ___ You?

Can We___Each Other/ Together?

Face Value

Not Enough Value

Impotence of Being Earnest

Premature Infatuation

Dusty Rusty Senses

Your Senses Are Getting Dusty and Rusty

Art is Like a Tune-Up for Your Broken-Down Senses (Utilize That Shit!)

Do You Hear Yourself? Maybe You Should Shut Up and Listen

What's Wrong With You?

Was It Worth It?

Why Do You Even Care?

Do You Even Care?

What Do You Want? Why Don't You Have It?

Why Do You Deserve to Be Happy?

Is Happiness Really What You Need?

At What Cost?

The Pursuit of Happiness => Chasing Imaginary Geese

Trust Wisely

Believe Selectively

Interrogate Everything

Developed Doubt > Blind Belief

Have You Ever Considered the Possibility that Everything You've Ever Known is a Lie? Now You Have. Welcome to the Universe of Doubt

At the End of Your Life, Will the Things You've Done Allow You to Pretend It Mattered?

At the End of Your Life, Will the Things You've Done Allow You to Believe It Mattered?

So That At the End of Your Life, You Can Pretend Like it Mattered

Was It Worth It?

When You Die, You'll Wonder if Your Life Even Mattered (Your Life is About Doing Things So That You Can Pretend that It Did)

If God Loves You, You Matter (Duh)

It Makes Sense Because the Universe Has a Plan (Obviously)

My Existence Matters (Doesn't Yours?)

My Existence Has Meaning (Doesn't Yours?)

Don't Disregard Dreams (Develop Dialogue)

Create Causes to Solidify Significance

Compulsively Create Content

When You're Feeling Worthless, Make Something Up

Invent Identity

Validate (Avoid the Void)

Focus (Fester Faster)

Foster Focus, Fester Faster

Let Your Focus Fester Faster

See Surface; Slip; Surrender

Kant Kauses Kancer

No Person's an Island

Interpersonal Relationships Matter

Make Or Break; Use or Lose => Finite, Polarizing Rhymes to Make You Anxious

If You Don't Stress Yourself Out, Someone Else Will Do it For You (Do You Want to Give Up That Control?)

Why Stress Yourself Out When Someone Else Will Do It For You?

Why Let Anything Stress You Out?

Fuck Everything

But When You Care About Something, It Starts to Have Power. The Power to Stress You Out.

Can You Hear Your Brain Clicking On and Off? Scanning Through Thoughts Like the Record Collection Inside a Jukebox? 'Here's One I'll Entertain. Select. Slowly Set Into Place with a Click. Play.'

Played Out

Weird is What Makes Things Interesting, Keeps Things from Being Boring and Oppressive. Normal Doesn't Actually Exist. The People That Worry about Being 'Normal' and Structure Their Lives around the Appearance of 'Normalcy' are the Really Fucked Up Ones

Why Would People Want to Believe in God? God is the Opposite of Empowerment

'Family Values'...Sounds Like a Dollar Store. Selling a Cheap, Shitty Product that Seems like a Good Deal, but is Actually Marked Way Up from the 1¢ it took to Produce it. Brightly Colored, Wholesome. It's Un-American Not to Endorse it!

Is Delusion Really That Much Easier? Aren't You Haunted by the Unsettling Suspicion that Your Life is Totally Worthless, that You're Pawns in some Master Manipulator's Game?

All In the Family

Hunky Dory


I'm So Repressed, I Get Offended By Pollen

Fanning the Flames

Fueling the Fire

Blowing Smoke

Algae Bloom Says, 'Fuck All Y'all'

Fuck It or Leave It

Use or Lose

Make or Break

Biological Imperative

Because We're All Fucked

All Fucked Up

A Motherfucking Travesty

What a Fucking Mess

Hate Something? Change It. Transform it into its own Polar Opposite. You Don't Even Need to Know How. Science will Figure That Out For You

Organ Music

Clawing at Your Own Face Because Your Skin if Smothering Your Internal Organs

Hating Everything that Touches You

Hating Everything

(Whose) Fault (Line)

Concentrated Crack

Brain Crack

(Your) Brain (on) Crack

Your Brain (on) Crack

What's Your Problem?

Who Do You Think You Are?

Do You Even Give a Shit?

Do You Even Care?

Do You Even Like This Shit?

Why Are You Even Here?

I Made This For You

Does This Not Please the Everloving Shit Out of You?

You're Totally Objectifying Me Right Now...

I'm Not Just some Commodity

I'm Not Just some Object

Fuck You and Your Gaze

Stare At Me a Little Longer

Come a Little Closer

Come So Close I'm Practically Stabbing You in the Eye...There, That's Better

Step Right Up! I Only Might Make You Bleed...

Don't Make Me Cut You...

I'm Not Responsible if You End Up Bleeding

Wouldn't it be Awesome if that Really Long, Sharp Shard Stabbed You in the Eye? You Could Tell Chicks You were Literally Blinded by Beauty. I Bet You'd Get a Lot of Pussy With That Line...I'd Totally Back You Up, 'Cause I'd Be All Flattered that You Essentially Characterized Me as the Incarnation of Beauty...It's Win, Win!

Chicks Dig Scars. You Should Let Me Cut You. That's Be One Classy-Ass Scar. Just Sayin'...Bitches'll Think You're all Into Art and Shit. I'd Be Doing You a Favor, Man...

You Walked All Over Me Yesterday. Well, Today, I'm Fucking Art!

You Walked All Over Me Yesterday. Well Guess What? I'm Art Now, Motherfucker!

You Ignored Me Yesterday. Do I Have Your Attention Now? (Now That I'm Art?)

Have I Earned Your Precious Attention?

Am I Finally Worthy of Your Attention?

Remember that Heineken Bottle You Dropped in the Street Last Night Because You Were Too Fucking Wasted to Recycle It? It's Art Now.

Remember that Heineken Bottle You Dropped in the Street Last Night Because You Were Too Fucking Wasted to Recycle It? Yeah, Hi Douchebag.

Tread Lightly, Motherfucker

You Avoid Stepping on This Every Day

Ya Like Thorns?

Some Thorny Shit

Imagine This Shit Embedded in Your Toe

I Could Pop Your Tire Like That

You Think I'm Shattered? You Should See the Other Guy...

Do You Think the Flowers Make Me More or Less Threatening?

Do the Flowers Make Me Less Threatening, or Are They Just Lulling You into a False Sense of Security?

Do You Feel Safer Because You're Looking at Flowers?

Do These Flowers Make Me Look Passive?

Yeah, I Think the Flowers Help Me Maintain a Certain Feminine Image while I put Shards of Fucking Glass in Your Face

How Do You Look? (How Do You See?)

If I Were You, I'd Be Boring

If I Were You, I Wouldn't Be Me

Nature Doesn't Need You

Nature Will Fuck You Up

Greener Than You

Recycling is tha Shit

Recycled Materials from the Sidewalk

Sidewalk > Utrecht

Nervous Breakdown

I Got Your Nervous Breakdown Right Fuckin Here

Yo Man, Violence is Totally the Answer

Dude, It's Like About Nature Rising out of the Rubble of Our Industrial Ignorance. Or Some Shit...

Yeah, It's Like, Nature, Juxtaposed with the Man-Made...

It's Like, the Cycles of Nature Conquering Man's Hubris...You Know?

It's Like, a Reflection of My Own Fragmented Existence...Or Something

It Really Makes Me Question the Multitudinous Aspects of My Own Self-hood...Damn (Fuckin' Art, Man)

Aw Man, I Want a Beer Now...

I Could Totally Hang This in the Living Room--It's Really Tie the Color Scheme Together, Don't You Think, Honey? We'd Just Have to Put it out of Reach of the Kids...But Man, would that make for a Great Conversation Piece at Dinner Parties...All Our Friends will think we're So Cultured...

How Much for the One with the Flowers and Broken Glass?

Gritty As Fuck

Maybe You Should Think About Yourself A Little More

Look at Yourself

Take a Long, Hard Look

Who Do You See When You Look in the Mirror?

This Is Your Face on Crack(ed Glass)

Stare Into Your Own Refracted Reflection. That is Some Deep Shit Right There...

Maybe If You Stare at Pieces of Yourself for Long Enough, Something Profound Will Happen

Words, Installment 2: Directional

Some words that have to do with directional/ spatial orientation...







In front of






Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Extremely Belated Notes from my Final Review

I just realized that in the whirlwind, I completely forgot to post the notes from my final critique, which a friend and classmate of mine took for me...Here they are, about a month late...

Me: I’m playing around with different textures, space. To access something beyond illustrating what I like or what I am attracted to. Figure out what works and what the best way is to go about what I’m trying to do – experimenting with different media and different ways of making what it is I want to make

JL: too much! [I brought a lot of work, because I'd made a lot of work]

SD: how many things do you make a day?

Me: Some days I crank out 50 mono-prints

SD: You have an incredible amount of energy and urgency. It’s a great time to put up certain parameters to get more of a sense of where things are going. Take energy that you make 50 thing in one week and make one thing (smaller). You know that you are going to keep making and making and making, begin to implement structures

Me: Had to stop (come closer) because I was going to go crazy if I kept working on it, this one (come around) was more specific – about space

SD: Definition for ambition changes [when you have this much work] if you did something 10x more ambitious, what would that be?

JL: Your work, more and more has a style. You work towards a signature style, crazy production in the service of creating a very distinctive style

SD: Some of these resist that style, force you to think on your feet a little

SL: (come closer) I like this because it is so inconsistent, has so many styles and layers, find some of the other things too consistent and fast. I think having something bigger than you so you are out of control of is good

KM: Wish I had your energy, always had so much to show me. Not sure if this [9 panels] goes much beyond shreddedness. Think about pushing it, where can you take it? Think about putting something crazy next to something that is less crazy, most successful when it’s crazy next to something more peaceful that I can rest my eyes.

TF: (sculpture) you didn’t feel impulse to put paper on top of this?

SD: Such an urgency about your ideas that you just have to get out ideas and move on. See that really intimidating way, (compare to Picasso show) try so many different ways of attacking the same subject. I think you have to keep nurturing the things that create these things, the feelings, and intuition

SL: doesn’t look like you undo and redo – you don’t stay with one thing and question it enough. How the metamorphosis of one thing can take you different places

JL: waiting for diagonal gesture that cuts across the whole process. Maybe the thing about this work is how much of it there is. I think it would be interesting to consider -- I’m sure you don’t like the idea that the most interesting part of the work is the quantity, but maybe recognizing something like that it might help the work to move forward. All of a sudden there is tons of work, and then the most noticeable part of the work is that there is tons of it – its all about finding some sort of act that can cut across the whole process, to redefine the field.

GC: Here we have a senior undergrad, in a way you can begin to see that there is a system, a belief in a certain sort of language, I think this is a pretty stunning development, changes that are made of it. Within liberal arts context, having the amount of time to make this much stuff is very impressive. I’d like to have it stated that this has been a tremendously important year in terms of opening up the systems of belief in your own structures of working. It is important to make sure you are challenging yourself so you aren’t repeating yourself. Language has opened up a world, this semester this world has been more embracing of different stimuli. How does anyone get into this language when they decide this is what they want to do? This doesn’t seem over productive. But there are things here that need to be picked up on about what they propose.

SD: If I was to think about what are the most important pieces, never seen a senior that has this much quantity to choose from. Take advantage of ability to dive in and give yourself a bunch of evidence – idea of choosing which are best, or is how they are arranged, do they need to exist as a single unit? Do they require a sense of quantity?

PK: I find it frustrating that I can’t figure out [looking at work on ground] if there is a “whole” or entirety. I find this one exciting (come closer) because it has an entirety? – if quantity isn’t something that is satisfying, then you need to figure out what it is about

SD: Working toward a style, resist idea of working things out to a completion. Robert Smithson “all clear ideas tend to be bad”

GC: I think you flirt with just about everything, and nothing is left out. Real journey from earlier pieces hard to imagine that last 10 x 8 would get itself out of painting that is leaning against that wall, but it did. I would rather that it be an evolution, pushing, I think you do respond well to what is visually there and present. It just looks like a lot but it isn’t a lot. Its not about quantity, but it is recognizable in this situation.

AG: What I recognize here is that you’ve allowed the structure of the drawing class to manifest itself in a way that you continue into the painting class. The one place that has shifted this dynamic is when you made (come closer). The only thing you need to do is move away from the beginning of the structure of the drawing class, build 10 of these (come closer) it will slow you down. You had a wonderful year, one that I could not have predicted. You have reinvented yourself with exuberance and incredible energy.

SL: Last summer you said you were interested in the idea of peeling walls, have you abandoned that? Is it inspiring, metaphoric of the kind of image that you want to make?

BU: I’m always looking at things that have elements of things I’m looking for. (pictures of branches, decay, textures and patterns that exist in the world) don’t want it to be that I’m illustrating these things.

TF: these (small, original cut paper studies) are really monumental to me, they are very different than the (9 panels). Never seen the rug look good until right here (white cut out piece)

GC: there is so much happening in this work that we aren’t recognizing, what is the possibility? What is the potential of a non representational shape? What can it carry? What can that world be? We see it in Islamic art. I don’t think it’s building toward object hood, I think it’s building toward the mystery of the layering, what gets locked into that kind of orientation. What gets subtracted and added? Are you really looking at what is below the clusters? Its very mysterious, How do those paintings feed themselves? The work is very delicate and very demanding in terms of looking.

JL: biomorphism is not form, it is anti-form. That can partially account for whether or not there is a lot or not of work. Biomorphism will endlessly proliferate itself, not a way of producing a sequence of forms. So in that way I think this is a lot of stuff, part of the reason that there is a lot of stuff is because you might be regarding these images as a sequence of forms when I’m not actually so sure that they are.

GC: total misreading. This comes out of shape not form. The shape begins to journey through a narrative by the way that is folded. Looking at Picasso’s folded steel sculptures. It isn’t about looking for form, it’s a shape narrative that becomes form.

Words, Installment 1: Basics

In addition to names of artists and, you know, drawings, I have tons of nouns, adjectives, verbs, swirling around in my sketchbook/ brain. I write them down to keep them in mind. Inspired by Richard Serra, I recently collected them all into list form, but posting a really long list to a blog is weird...there are very minimal formatting options, so they would essentially be in on long, skinny column. Not ideal. SO, I've decided to do installments a la The List, because small doses of my thoughts are far more palatable. Enjoy the first cluster:













Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Oh Hey, Things I Made!

So I haven't posted images of my work in a while. I'm gonna make up for that now...

I'll start from where we essentially left off...After making those 3D cutout drawings, I decided to try using panels. I made this one first:

Then I played around with the leftover snippets of paper from tearing the holes:

Then I started making some black, white and gray ones, which I ended up putting in the show. Here's a preliminary grouping:

Here are the 9 gray-scale panels installed for the show:

At the show:

And a closeup of the black one because it's my favorite:

Also in the show were a new piece I made that I titled Come Around. Here it is in the studio:

Some installation shots before the show:

And at the show:

And then of course there was the huge white drawing that I've been complaining about for months. I titled it Come Closer:

During the de-install, we laid it down on the floor, and I got a little camera crazy:

Whew! That's a relief.

Teaser: I've started a new piece, and I've been collecting shards of glass off the street. Stay tuned...